Ratify mercury phaseout treaty – watchdog
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - October 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is appealing to the national government to fast-track the country’s ratification of a global treaty that aims to protect public zz health and the environment from the effects of mercury poisoning.

Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, said, “We strongly believe that our country is ready, willing and able to ratify and implement the provisions of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the government signed six years ago on Oct. 10, 2013.”

He added, “As a matter of fact, our country has already achieved a number of policy and regulatory milestones to control, if not eliminate, mercury pollution from human activities. We therefore request the Duterte government to ratify the treaty and to secure the necessary concurrence by the Senate.”

Dizon cited the phaseout of mercury-based medical devices such as thermometers in 2010, the ban on mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in 2012, the adoption of extended producer responsibility for mercury lamps in 2013, and the prohibition on over 135 mercury-contaminated skin whitening products from 2010 to 2018.

Most recently, in July 2019, the government launched the “National Action Plan for the Phaseout of Mercury-Added Products and the Management of the Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes” in anticipation of the global phaseout target by 2020 for specified MAPs.

“The ratification of the pact will strengthen our country’s resolute efforts to combat mercury pollution as this will allow us to fully engage in treaty processes as party to the Convention. Also, it will allow us to gain more access to financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity-building opportunities,” Dizon pointed out.

According to the “Ratification Dossier” published by the Environmental Management Bureau, “the existing policies, programs and regulations have, to some degree, prepared the Philippines in terms of fulfilling the requirements of the Convention.”

It noted that “despite the economic cost to comply with the provisions of the Convention, the long-term benefits of becoming a Party far outweigh the disadvantages.”

The dossier cited that “the Convention is consistent with the country’s basic policy to protect and preserve the right to health of Filipinos, and the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

“With the aid of the Convention, the ever-increasing threat of mercury pollution to public health and environment could be minimized or eliminated,” the dossier said.

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